Making money as a musician is a struggle. I've seen many of my friends hop from local venue to community events, playing their original tunes and some cover songs to make a few bucks on a Saturday night. What they all thirst for is to turn their love for music into a sustainable career. That takes record sales.
Musicians used to need a record label to get their music on the shelves of popular music stores (remember the late great Strawberries and Sam Goody?) Now independent artists can sell their music on big sites like iTunes and Amazon MP3 without needing to land that record deal. Sites like VibeDeck, CD Baby and TuneCore are helping artists cash in on their creativity and get worldwide distribution of their tunes.
I looked into these three music distribution sites to see which one offers the best deal for musicians. Each offer a different level of service for varying prices. Which one is best for you?
This tool gives artists a way to promote and sell their music on Facebook, SoundCloud, a personal website or on VibeDeck itself. Using the website’s service is essentially free and you keep 100% of your sales. When fans purchase the music on any of these sites, the money goes directly into a PayPal account. You’ll pay a commission to PayPal for every song or CD you sell, but no money to VibeDeck. If you want extra features (pre-orders, song previews, Billboard chart sales reporting, etc.) you can opt for a premium VibeDeck account, with a yearly fee. VibeDeck is different from many other services out there because it doesn’t take a portion of your sales. However, you get what you pay for, and when a service is free, you’re likely to get limited functionality. VibeDeck doesn’t offer support for iTunes or other major music buying sites.
CD Baby will help you get your music on all the most popular music sites like iTunes and Amazon, as well as Facebook, personal websites, Spotify, Google Play, and the list goes on. The list of CD Baby’s partners is really impressive, but it comes with a cost. CD Baby will distribute music to it’s partners for $49 per album or $9.95 per single. On top of that, you’ll pay $4 per unit sold for CDs and vinyl and 25% of every digital download at CDBaby.com. The site will only keep 9% of net income paid by partners like iTunes and Amazon MP3. At first glance, CD Baby may be for the more advanced musician with a larger fan base and therefore more income to afford the distribution fees.
Out of the three sites I looked at for making money with music, TuneCore is my favorite. Not only does this site have a long list of huge partners like iTunes and Spotify, but it’s roster is filled with popular artists. Current TuneCore artists include Boyce Avenue, The Civil Wars, and Lloyd Banks. To get your music distributed along with these big names, you’ll pay a yearly fee up to $49.99, depending on the level of service you need. After that, you’ll keep 100% of the music sales. It’s the best deal I’ve seen so far with a huge network of partners and a relatively low yearly fee while keeping all of your sales.
Are you an independent artist trying to turn your passion into profit? Tell us your story!